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Amelia Islander

Bar Zin Bistro & Wine Bar

Jan 07, 2020 10:44AM ● By Tom Barrett
By Michael Gass • Photo by William Raser

One of my favorite things about the coming of winter is the opportunity to celebrate one of the most important people in my world. This year, my father turned 69 years old, and we went out to Bar Zin to celebrate.

Bar Zin has anchored the island’s South End culinary scene for several years, but over the summer they had a full makeover, complete with a new theme and layout in the dining room and a new executive chef. Owner Tim Seyda, Chef Chris, and General Manager Christina Shannon have swung the hammer and hit the nail squarely on the head.

As we walked in, we were greeted by the hostess in front of their brand-new bar and shown to our seats in the lovely new dining room. The tables are stout, made of dark wood, and in the library room, the banquettes in the corners are covered with a lush, soft fabric. The atmosphere is inviting and comfortable, with lots of artwork and a staff that is quick and attentive.

Our server, Addison, answered my many questions with great patience and aplomb. She walked us through the new menu, the night’s featured entrees, and drink specials from the bar. We were having a hard time choosing from the wonderful looking small plates on the menu, but settled on something classic, Shepherd’s Pie. Addison suggested a glass of Votre Sante Pinot Noir from Francis Ford Coppola with our appetizer. The wine was light, fruit forward without being sweet, and the perfect combination for what was to follow. The Shepherd’s Pie is just as you might imagine, layers of potato and chopped meat in a rich gravy with sweet peas, but topped with a truffled potato mousse and served in a rocks glass. It’s bottom layer is made of decadently creamy grits to catch all of the cascading flavors.

Next, we tried another red wine dish, the Rosemary Smoked Lamb. The dish is a simple lamb stew with pearled cous cous, but the flavor and presentation are divine. The bowl comes to the table domed in clear glass, enveloped in smoke. When the dish reaches the table, the dome is removed and the rich smell of the smoke fills the air at the table and lingers, accentuating the rich flavors.

For our entrée, we decided to share an order of their roasted fish special. The fish this evening was a beautiful fillet of flounder. The skin was served facing up and impossibly crisp, giving the sweet, delicate flaked fish a bit of texture that made each bite perfect. The nightly feature is served over “dirty” rice with bits of foie gras and andouille sausage, which the pinot noir handled splendidly.

We capped our night with a bourbon from the bar and shared an apple crisp. We skipped the candles and the celebration and reflected on how amazing our dinner had been. I knew we would be well taken care of and our meal would be delicious, but my expectations were far exceeded. Take the opportunity to come to Bar Zin in the Palmetto Walk Shopping Center on First Coast Highway. They are open for lunch from Tuesday to Saturday and dinner from Monday to Saturday.